Preconference Session: Support for Designing and Implementing New Evaluation Systems in School Improvement Grant Schools

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Under the School Improvement Grants (SIG) transformation model, local education agencies (LEAs) are required to develop teacher and school leader effectiveness by implementing rigorous educator evaluation systems. These systems must incorporate student growth as a significant factor; identify and reward staff who improve student achievement and remove those who do not; provide relevant, ongoing, high-quality, job-embedded professional development; and implement strategies designed to recruit, place, and retain high-quality staff. This preconference session highlighted lessons learned from other states and provided participants with tools and resources  to support their LEAs in the design and implementation of systems that will improve teaching and leadership practices, and ultimately increase student achievement. Following are some highlights:

  • Implementing the teacher and leader evaluation requirement for SIG schools has uncovered a number of challenges and best practices. Catherine Barbour, senior technical assistance advisor at American Institutes for Research (AIR), described the main challenges to implementing the evaluation requirements for SIG schools as staffing, scheduling, and school climate. Related challenges include stakeholder engagement, the extensive planning necessary to involve stakeholders at multiple levels, and the difficulty in designing systems that will be sustainable over time.
  • According to Katy Anthes, executive director of educator effectiveness at the Colorado Department of Education, Colorado intentionally only chose one SIG district as a pilot site because SIG districts have unique challenges that may make implementation of the evaluation system difficult. The state focused on rural, non-SIG districts for pilot sites because they were likely to have more capacity to provide feedback and simultaneously identify the unique challenges that rural districts would face in implementing the evaluation system. The state will provide coordinated support teams for implementing evaluation requirements in SIG districts after the details of the evaluation system have been determined.
  • Jesse Dixon, consultant in the Office of District and School Turnaround at the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, described the department’s approach to evaluation implementation in SIG schools as a lever to accelerate turnaround work. The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education focused on SIG districts as early implementers of the evaluation system, connecting district and school priorities to the evaluation system to emphasize its importance in the overall turnaround work. The state is assisting SIG districts in aligning their turnaround goals with a specific component of the state’s evaluation system cycle, such as formative assessment use and implementation of the educator’s growth plan, to ensure focused and coordinated reforms.
  • Julia Rawlings and Carolyn Spangler, educational recovery leaders in the Division of Student Success at the Kentucky Department of Education, described the use of the Teaching, Empowering, Leading & Learning (TELL) Survey to help prioritize reform needs across districts and begin a discussion across stakeholders on how to improve student achievement and learning. The Kentucky Department of Education was able to use the anonymous TELL data to identify professional development and support needs for SIG districts, and conducted follow-up surveys to assess their impact on implementation challenges.
  • Marlene Darwin, senior researcher at AIR, provided an overview of the “Doing What Works” website and the resources available. The site provides professional development materials on research-based teaching practices, including multimedia tools such as video tutorials, research and policy papers, and recommendations for various levels of educators.


A Practical Guide to Designing Comprehensive Principal Evaluation Systems
Clifford, M., Joshni Hansen, U., & Wraight, S.
National Comprehensive Center for Teacher Quality (2012)

A Practical Guide to Designing Comprehensive Teacher Evaluation Systems
Goe, L., Holdheide, L., & Miller, T.
National Comprehensive Center for Teacher Quality (2011)